What is the therapeutic massage and what differentiates it from a relaxation massage?
What does therapeutic massage consist of and why does it bear this name?
Massage is a manual practice that involves different manoeuvres used depending on its purpose. A relaxing massage has many benefits. Of course, the first feeling that the massaged person feels is a state of well-being, of relaxation, of disconnection from the problems he has, of pampering. In the background there is less anxiety, stress and a non-verbal communication with the therapist is created. A plus that therapeutic massage brings is the fact that it is made with the aim of relieving pain and helping to heal.
The therapist has the necessary training to know the blood, nervous, and muscular path, using specific massage techniques, oils and lotions in order to treat health problems. Therapeutic massage includes relaxation massage, but differs from it because it aims to restore health.
The therapeutic massage is performed as an alternative treatment and is indicated in many types of conditions such as: cervical conditions (cervical spondylosis, torticollis), spine conditions (disc herniation, discopathy, scoliosis), lower and upper limb joint conditions (hips, knees, etc.). Also, through therapeutic massage, the body is helped to eliminate toxins, improving by such blood and lymph circulation.
An example of a therapeutic massage is Ayurvedic massage, which has its origins in the millennial Indian tradition, a holistic massage, treating the person as a whole, aiming to eliminate blockages at the level of energy meridians, through different acupressure methods and the use of nutritious and tonic vegetable oils such as sesame, coconut, olive oils and oils mixed with different plants (valerian, basil) depending on the patient’s needs.
Therapeutic massage is not only a treatment method, it combines the useful with the pleasant: it relieves suffering, removes tension from the affected areas, supports the regeneration and healing processes carried out by our body and at the same time is a very effective way of relaxation and disconnection.
Most of the time, a suffering area of our body causes tension in neighbouring areas or forces other areas to take over the tasks it cannot perform due to the condition. In the case of a sciatica attack, for example, the affected leg is protected during walking by the other leg, which is overloaded, because we tend to avoid putting our weight on the painful leg. Likewise, an organ that can no longer perform its function normally leads to the overloading of other organs and systems. That is why the therapeutic massage does not only include the affected area, but aims to restore the balance, so that the end result is a state of global relaxation.
Also, if we look wisely at the affected area and its functions, we can make correlations between those functions and the events in our lives, a certain emotion or a certain attitude that is reflected in the alteration of that function and that brought us and keeps us in suffering. When we pay attention to that area, it can “speak” to us, showing us a deeper message that it has for us, and in the process, it is the therapist who can guide us to discover it. A sore foot can show us a certain resistance to moving forward in a certain aspect of our life, a tired liver can show us a build-up of anger or a long-standing indecision.
Therapeutic massage can consist either in stimulating certain reflex areas, or in massaging the main points on certain energy meridians, or in osteopraxy manoeuvres, or in certain therapeutic local massage manoeuvres (kneading, friction, vibration, gelling), or it can consist of a combination of these, depending on the need. The joints become more flexible, the blood and lymphatic circulation are beneficially influenced, the muscles gradually regain their contractility, normal tone, and elasticity, we feel lighter, more flexible and faster, the posture is visibly corrected.
Regardless of the chosen technique, physical and mental relaxation is the most important effect that the therapist aims for. Healing and regeneration are processes that only occur when we are relaxed, when we come out of the “fight, freeze or flight” mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is active and the survival mechanisms triggered by fear and stress are supported. In those moments, intelligence drops by half, the immune system is turned off, regenerative processes stagnate. When we are relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is active, the body regenerates, heals, we are more loving, creative, our vision broadens, we are able to find novel, even brilliant solutions to the problems we face.
This expanded vision is actually an exit from the old way of thinking, a transformation for us, an exit from the autopilot, where 90% of the time we run subconscious programs based on beliefs that are no longer valid for us, on prejudices taken from education given by family, school, society in childhood, erroneous beliefs that life has now brought to our attention through a condition to modify them, disconnecting from subconscious programs and becoming truly present, capable of conscious choice. Thus, through awareness, the affected area becomes a gateway to ourselves, and the massage table becomes a place of revelation.